“Authority” of the self is no authority at all.

As a millennial that lives in a culture founded on the importance of choice and autonomy, I found this quote very interesting.

People differ as to the source of right and wrong. Some say that everyone has a right to decide his own values. Each person decides for himself in each situation what is right and what is wrong.

If this is to be true; if everyone reserves the right to decide one’s own standards, then we have absolutely nothing to say to a Hitler or a Stalin. For they did exactly the same. They determined for themselves what was right and wrong. They recognized no authority higher than themselves.

Now this “authority” of the self is no authority at all.

We are at the mercy of what Sartre called “manufactured values” peculiar to the individual, altered and repudiated* at the individual’s whim; values according to which it is right to exterminate anyone – even millions of people if they stand in your way.

Dostoevsky said once that if man removes God from the throne of his life then he becomes God. He manufactures his own commandments and value system. 

What are your thoughts on our society’s so-called “manufactured values”? The right for every person to choose his or her own standards and determine what is right or wrong for themselves.

P.S. This is a funny question to ask given the topic of this quote, isn’t it?

*Repudiated: verb

refuse to accept or be associated with: she has repudiated policies associated with previous party leaders.

2 deny the truth or validity of: the minister repudiated allegations of human rights abuses.

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Jessica is an employment specialist for marginalized youth in Toronto, Canada. She enjoys teaching, traveling and observing - especially the relationship between mind and heart. Jessica also has a passion for outdoor walks, dancing, and all things offbeat and authentic. You can contact her at

What are your thoughts?